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Spotsylvania supervisors examine village project

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Today may be the last chance for Spotsylvania County residents to publicly weigh in on a proposed 300-acre development that is being compared to downtown Fredericksburg.

The Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on the planned Courthouse Village at about 6:30 p.m. at the Holbert Building. Board members may vote after the hearing.

The development, envisioned to have 1,500 residential units and about 500,000 square feet of commercial and office space, would be near the historic courthouse area. Similar to downtown Fredericksburg, it would have buildings with a combination of residential, office and retail.

The Planning Commission last week unanimously recommended approval of the project, and supervisors will have the final say.

Spotsylvania-based developer W.J. Vakos and Co. is asking the county to rezone the property to mixed use.

Planning Commission Chairman Robert Stuber called the proposed development a “pioneering use” of that zoning category, which was approved last year to give developers more flexibility in how their projects evolve.

If approved, Courthouse Village will be built out over at least 20 years and have four sections. Those sections include:

145 acres abutting Courthouse Commons Boulevard (Area C on the map). The developer envisions this land as being solely residential, with homes, town houses, condos and apartments.

65 acres at the northwest corner of Lake Anna Parkway and Brock Road (Area B). It would primarily have retail space, based on tentative plans. Any single-family homes would be part of a retirement or age-restricted community.

53 acres east of Brock Road and south of the Courthouse Bypass (Area A1), near the county’s government complex. Envisioned as the core of Courthouse Village, that land would have a mix of retail, office and residential space such as apartments above shops.

Adjoining that property to the east is another 37 acres (Area A2), which would be more residential-focused to include detached homes, town houses, condos and apartments. The developer anticipates having more offices than shops on that acreage. That includes buildings where residents can live and work.

Spotsylvania supervisors approved a smaller, 75-acre version of Courthouse Village in 1999. That rezoning allowed for up to 400 homes.

The developer wrote that the expanded Courthouse Village offers a “true alternative” to sprawl in the county. It would allow residents to walk to work and shops and include sidewalks and tree-lined streets.

Prior to the recordation of a total of 600 detached and attached home lots, Vakos has promised to construct at least 200,000 square feet of shops and offices.

About half of the promised commercial square footage has already been built as part of the original Courthouse Village rezoning. In fact, several residents who live in that space walk to work at the county’s government complex. County planning staff, who are recommending the project’s approval, say the development will more than pay for itself if the tentative plans become a reality.

The mixed-use zoning category, however, does not commit the developer to an express number of shops, offices and homes. So the development could have more homes or apartments than anticipated, depending on market demand.

That uncertainty concerns some residents. Nearby homeowners have also said they’re worried about traffic.

Planning Commission member Cristine Lynch said at last week’s meeting that the planned 1,500 homes at Courthouse Village would be a “financial drag” on the county. She expressed disappointment that Vakos hadn’t offered cash proffers, which are voluntary payments to offset a development’s impact on public facilities. Lynch also noted that the applicant hadn’t committed to a certain mix of residential, commercial and office space.

Still, she voted in favor of Courthouse Village because she said it was an ideal location for a community where people can live, work and play.

“I see it as a citizen investment in the only downtown our community has,” Lynch said.

Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402


In addition to Courthouse Village, the Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors tonight will hold a public hearing on another application for a mixed-use development.

The other development, Crossroads Station, would be on 46 acres off the U.S. 17 Bypass at Crossroads Business Park near the planned Virginia Railway Express station. It would have up to 610 one- and two-bedroom apartments and no more than 950,000 square feet of commercial space.

Supervisors may also act on a special-use permit application for Eden Try, a 12-acre wedding venue off River Road. The site already hosts weddings, but the property owners must receive county approval before each event. A special-use permit would enable Eden Try to host an unlimited number of weddings and other events such as bridal showers per year. Events would be allowed seven days a week from 8 a.m. until 11 p.m. Eden Try owners Linda Morrison and Gary Gratopp say they plan to host up to 30 events per year.